As a business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When my to-do list becomes unruly, I tend to go into ‘denial mode,’ whereby I put off the important tasks in favour of a glass of wine.
If you want your business to succeed, you’ve got to bite the bullet and get the work done -- even it means tackling some less-than-appealing tasks such as reviewing documents, conducting employee reviews, bookkeeping, attending internal meetings, approving new product designs or writing your new marketing materials. To help conquer procrastination, I offer you my six-step personal action checklist:
1. Prioritize. Your list may be a mile long, or just a half page. Either way, the best way to get going is to determine your return on investment for each item from a financial, time and resource point of view. From there, rank the tasks in order of benefits e.g., clients and revenue), starting with the one that involves the least output on your part.
2. Do it again. Cut your list down to just down to just three items. Take those top three and put them on your calendar as ‘must complete tasks’ this week - or ideally today. Toss the rest aside for now.
3. Ask yourself: What's getting in the way? Sometimes, I find procrastination is more about something getting in the way than anything else. It could be you don't have every piece of the puzzle to be able to move forward with a business decision. It could be you don't know how to complete a task or it could be guilt because you think you should be spending your time in other areas. It could also be that an item on your list is a ‘nice to do’ and not a ‘must do,’ and therefore holding you back from the things that matter. Whatever the case may be, it’s critical that you become aware of the impediment
4. Be realistic with time. I've often found that I hold back on certain things because I think they’ll take long to complete. To overcome this thought process, take a guess and set a deadline. Tell yourself (and try to be realistic) “I’ll give myself 30 minutes to get this done!” Take your top three list and write down the time it will take you to accomplish it next to each item. What have you got to lose? If you over estimate the time you will find yourself with some free time to focus on other tasks. If you under estimate you can always extend your time. The goal is to just get started!
5. Schedule each task with a start and an end time. When you know you have to complete a task in a specific amount of time, you’re more likely to get it done. Remember the Law from Parkinson's Law: The Pursuit of Progress by Cyril Northcote Parkinson: “work expands to fit the time allotted”. If you give yourself the day to complete a task, no matter how small the task is, it will take you all day.
6. Just do it. Once you complete your to-do list, prioritize them in terms of ROI and are realistic with time, a lot of the heavy lifting is already done. All that is left is to execute our last step it to just start doing them. You'll power through them like you've never done before.
As the founder and president of Engage Selling Solutions, Colleen Francis helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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